For the longest time I would get confused when I heard people talking about tennis shoes. I couldn’t believe that so many people actually played tennis, and I had never seen any of them on the tennis courts or even touching a racket. Being young, I didn’t realize that people from different places have names for things that I might not be used to. Some people say jacket or coat, while others say parka, even though they all mean the same thing. The same thing happens with soda and pop. It’s the same stuff, but you may call it one or the other depending on where you live.
I thought tennis shoes were meant for the tennis court only, much like bowling shoes are worn at the bowling alley but rarely out in public. I later learned that when people said tennis shoe, they meant the same thing as what I called a sneaker. No one is right or wrong; it just depends on where you grew up and what your parents called them. This difference in slang was fodder for some great laughs when I went to college and started meeting people from all over the country. Some people snicker when they hear me call tennis shoes by the name of sneakers.
I’m not sure, but I am guessing the name sneakers came from the fact that unlike hard soled shoes, you can sneak up on someone with them on. They have a soft sole and make very little noise. In fact, the only noise you hear them make might be squeaks on a polished basketball court. Perhaps they shouldn’t be sneakers or tennis shoes; perhaps they should be called squeakers. Ok, sorry, bad joke. Maybe just look for a tennis sneaker to avoid all confusion. If you want tennis shoes, or sneakers, or whatever it is that you call them, you can find them anywhere that carries shoes and boots. If you want shoes that are made for tennis, make sure you visit an athletic store and tell them you need good shoes for tennis, but don’t necessarily call them tennis shoes, or you may get shown any old pair of soft-soled shoe. Look for a good fit, and make sure you get arch support. You will pay more for a quality pair of shoes, but if you need them for athletic reasons, you will be glad you did.